Cyber Security Programs In Texas – Before We Get Into The Topic, Let’s Learn Some Basic Of This Topic
Despite being overshadowed by Silicon Valley, Texas has been a hotbed of technological innovation for far longer. Ask NASA if you have any doubts. And the state’s cybersecurity degrees, both public and private, show that it’s on the rise. Are you already planning a trip to Houston or one of the state’s other tech hubs? Go straight to our Texas schools with cybersecurity programs list. Continue reading if you haven’t already.
- San Antonio is the epicenter of Texas’ cybersecurity activity. The University of Texas at San Antonio has been chosen to lead the Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAO) Standards Organization for the Department of Homeland Security. UTSA is in charge of building a standardized framework for private enterprises and the government to share cybersecurity information in this capacity. As if that weren’t enough, the Army Reserve named UTSA, along with only five other universities, to the Army Reserve Cyber Private Public Partnership Program, or Cyber P3 project. It will be in charge of cybersecurity training for reserve soldiers.
- Another important player is the University of Texas in Dallas. In 2012, it set a goal of becoming a national leader in cybersecurity. Its most recent initiative is the Center for Engaging Women in Cybersecurity, which was founded in 2016 to reduce the gender gap among cybersecurity experts.
- The University of Texas at Austin established the Center for Identity in 2015, which investigates identity theft, fraud, and privacy in both virtual and physical environments. It swiftly teamed up with Equifax, a Fortune 1000 firm that provides tools to protect people’s online identities, and thus their credit. The center has been mentioned by the Texas Cybersecurity, Education, and Economic Development Council as a model for schools seeking private and federal money to enhance cybersecurity programs.
- Not to be outdone, Southern Methodist University established the Darwin Deason Institute for Cybersecurity in 2014, thanks to a roughly $8 million gift from Deason. The next year, it established a strategic alliance with defense technology behemoth Raytheon, which has two Texas-based corporate divisions, one in McKinney and the other in Austin.
- Don’t forget about Texas A&M. The institution obtains more than its fair share of research funding as one of only 60 research universities in the United States invited to join the Association of American Universities (UT Austin and Rice University are the other two in Texas). It’s starting to catch on with cybersecurity programs. It awarded seed funds of $250,000 to five cybersecurity research teams in 2016.
Studying Cybersecurity in Texas
You aren’t seeking a cybersecurity degree in Texas if you aren’t looking in Texas. The University of Texas at San Antonio is the most popular stopover. In 2014, experts voted it the best cybersecurity school in the country. However, significant university-based research and academic programs can be found all across the state, and the National Science Foundation funds CyberCorps Scholarships at six of the state’s universities (the University of Houston, University of North Texas, University of Texas, UTD, UTEP, and UTSA). Free tuition and generous stipends are available to students there. Here are some notable events taking place on Texas university campuses:
Online Cybersecurity Programs in Texas
Texas has a good reputation for cybersecurity education. Whereas Silicon Valley is renowned as the world’s tech hub, Texas has earned a name for itself in cybersecurity, with UTSA at the forefront. Other state institutions aren’t far behind, thanks to Texas’ forethought in establishing the Texas Cybersecurity, Education, and Economic Development Council (TCEEDC) in 2011. Cybersecurity degrees and certificates are now available at all six of the state’s public university systems, as well as state-run technical and community schools and private universities. There aren’t all of them online, but there are a lot of them.
Here’s a rundown of the cybersecurity distance learning programs available through college catalogs:
Online Associate Degrees in Cybersecurity
Although many Texas two-year institutions offer cybersecurity associate programs, the majority of them (including Del Mar College, Alamo College, and the Texas State Technical College system) were not available online as of 2016. That isn’t to imply that you can’t take specific courses toward a cybersecurity degree from home.
The AAS in Information Security offered by Central Texas College is a completely online program. It’s geared toward aspiring security managers and includes an internship, making it ideal for those with no technical background. A few four-year colleges offer online associate degrees, but most are focused on baccalaureates and higher. For example, South Texas College offers online associate degrees in Computer Science and Computer Information Systems. These courses, on the other hand, primarily address general education and programming, laying the groundwork for students to subsequently specialize in cybersecurity.
Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Cybersecurity
Online cybersecurity baccalaureate degrees are not offered by any of the state’s major schools. Students can instead enroll in a campus-based program and take any online courses that count toward their degree.
Online Master’s Degrees in Cybersecurity
Online programs start to become increasingly plentiful at the master’s degree level. Two large university systems, Texas A&M and the University of Texas have concentrated their distance learning efforts in this region. Regrettably, their cybersecurity programs have yet to be made public.
Sam Houston State University is a public school with a strong internet presence. Its Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program prepares students with strong technical backgrounds to work as security professionals in organizations or government agencies. Its MS in Digital Forensics is for computer science or criminal justice majors who desire to combine expertise from both subjects into a single degree.
In terms of online cybersecurity graduate degrees, private colleges are truly setting the bar high. SMU is a prestigious institution that offers two online master’s degrees in the field. The MS in Computer Science (Security Concentration) and the MS in Security Engineering are the two options available to students. The first is intended for programmers who work at a high level. Students admitted to the latter can’t be said to be slackers in this regard, but their coursework is far more focused than that of a CS degree, given the moniker.
Our Lady of the Lake University’s Master of Science in Information Systems and Security (MS-ISS) is a one-year program that provides students with extensive experience in database management, systems analysis, network security, and information assurance. The curriculum is meant to provide students with an edge when applying for positions with government agencies, and the short timeframe for completion is suitable for current IT pros wishing to transition into a security role at their firm. Students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than computer science are eligible to apply, but must first undergo a semester-long cybersecurity boot camp that includes programming, networks, databases, systems design, and basic security concepts.
Online Certificate Programs in Cybersecurity
Both undergraduate and graduate certificates are available. And, thanks to a slew of online programs offered by a few public institutions in Texas, students have plenty of options.
Central Texas College boasts one of the most extensive catalogs of exclusively online certificate programs in the state, making it the best spot to look for undergraduate certifications. The undergrad program prepares students for the CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Network+ examinations, allowing them to become Information Security Specialist in under a year.
Sam Houston University has the most graduate certifications available. Its cybersecurity credential is intended for IT managers in charge of vital infrastructure. The Data Assurance certificate enlightens database managers on security issues. Its Digital Investigation credential is designed for criminal justice professionals with a computer technology background.
Cybersecurity Scholarships in Texas
Cybersecurity is part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) group of disciplines. It’s a top priority for schools and state governments looking to hire and retain highly skilled workers. Scholarships are the first step in the recruitment process. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, for instance, provides community and technical colleges with funding for the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (T-STEM) Challenge Scholarship. It’s for STEM majors who earned a 3.0 or higher in high school and plan to maintain that grade in college.
Here are a few school-based awards that are more focused on cybersecurity, or at the very least computer science:
Sam Houston State University
- Students with a 3.0 GPA or higher are automatically considered for the Mohamed Ahmed Noman Endowment, which varies depending on available funds.
San Antonio College
- Cheryl Sanchez Scholarship: Computer Science and Information Technology majors from Bexar and the surrounding counties are eligible for this award. They must have a 2.5 GPA to be eligible.
Southern Methodist University
- Scholarships from the Lyle School of Engineering: The Lyle School of Engineering offers scholarships to Computer Science majors who apply by January 15th. First-year students with outstanding high school credentials are eligible for awards, which can be renewed each year if the recipient maintains a 3.0 GPA.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
- The Evening Post Publishing Company-KRIS TV Scholarship is a one-time, non-renewable award for students studying computer science at the College of Science and Engineering.
- Students must attend full time, earn a 3.5 GPA, graduate in the 96th percentile of their high school class, have financial needs, and be a first-generation student from Nueces, San Patricio, Bee, Live Oak, Jim Wells, Refugio, Aransas, or Kleberg to be eligible for the John D. Fernandez Endowed Scholarship in Computer Science.
- Undergraduates seeking a degree with a Computer Information Science specialization can apply for the Carl Douglas Wyatt Memorial Scholarship, which is a one-time award.
The University of Texas at Austin
- INFOSEC Scholarship for Service (SFS): UT’s Certificate in Information Security program offers a full scholarship plus a stipend to students. They’ll have certain commitments to the federal government, which supports the prize, but it’ll be worth it since, after graduation, they’ll move into a government internship.
- University of Texas Computer Science Scholarship: Each year, the Department of Computer Sciences at UT awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to full-time undergraduates who have high academic credentials, outstanding extracurricular engagement, and verifiable financial needs.
The University of Texas at Dallas
- Honorary Scholarship from Jonsson School Distinguished Alumnus Niyi “John” Olajide’04: The Olajide Scholarship is for full-time undergrads majoring in Computer Science, which includes students minoring in cybersecurity. It’s worth $2,000 in total.
- Lars Magnus Ericsson Graduate Fellowship: Full-time graduate students in a computer science discipline with 9 credits can compete for a $2,000 fellowship based on their GPA, research, and coursework quality.
- Senior undergraduates, graduate students, and Ph.D. candidates can apply for full tuition and stipends to attend cybersecurity and information assurance programs at the University of Texas at Dallas.
The University of Texas at El Paso
- UTEP CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Students participating in the MS in Software Engineering or PhD-level computer science programs should apply for the full CyberCorps scholarship and stipend. They’ll be expected to work in a cybersecurity capacity for a government agency after graduation.
The University of Texas at San Antonio
Though any College of Business undergrads or graduates are eligible to apply, Boeing wants to grant this scholarship to individuals interested in aerospace, military, and/or cybersecurity. Full-time students who overcome economic challenges to thrive academically receive awards.
Undergraduate and graduate Information Systems and Infrastructure Assurance majors with at least two years of higher education completed who are enrolled full time, have a 3.0 GPA, and demonstrate financial need can apply for the Enterprise Architecture Scholarship in the College of Business.
Full-time undergrads and graduates pursuing cybersecurity training can get two years of full support (plus substantial stipends) from the National Science Foundation. After graduation, recipients must work for a government agency.
University of Dallas
- Incoming students might receive a $1,000 to $5,000 Computer Science Departmental Scholarship for a degree from the school’s CS department.
University of Houston
- Scholarship for Graduate Service: MS and Ph.D. students interested in cybersecurity can apply for a full scholarship owing to significant funding from the National Science Foundation.
- Undergraduate S-STEM Scholarships: The Department of Computer Science gives multiple $10,000 scholarships to computer science students who have a 3.0 GPA and financial need.
University of North Texas
- Ph.D. Scholarships for Cybersecurity and Information Assurance: Scholarship for Service funding is available to Ph.D. candidates majoring in Information Assurance. Each year, the school provides two full scholarships with stipends that are renewable.
Cybersecurity Events in Texas
Cybersecurity Meetups and Communities in Texas
It can be refreshing to meet peers in the real world after spending so much time in front of a screen. After work or class, Texas cybersecurity professionals and hackers may grab a beer and talk shop at one of many locations. Six localities from throughout the state are featured below:
- San Antonio’s CyberDef Dojo brings together hackers, tech entrepreneurs, and security aficionados monthly for in-person seminars and skill sessions.
- NCC Group Security Open Meeting – Austin: NCC is a quarterly forum for engineers and technical managers in the Austin area to hear the latest research on issues including reversing, secure programming, and cryptography.
- North Texas Cybersecurity Group: Professionals from the Dallas region meet once a month to hear speakers discuss the most up-to-date offensive and defensive cybersecurity tactics.
- Every month, software security experts and novices alike convene in Dallas to learn about software security, covering everything from pen testing to passwords to mobile payments.
Cybersecurity Conferences and Workshops in Texas
In Texas, you can improve your knowledge and abilities at any time of year. SANS Institute provides cybersecurity workshops on various topics throughout the year in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, which are three of the institute’s favorite training locations. Texas is also a common pit stop for large conventions. USENIX Security Symposium 2016 in Austin and the 2017 ISSA International Conference in Dallas are two recent events. Some conferences, for example, return year after year to the Lone Star State, including:
- Academics and officials from the energy, water, and aerospace industries will gather in Houston for two days to explore how to prevent supply chain and infrastructure threats posed by security flaws.
- Notice a pattern in the Oil and Gas Cybersecurity Summit? The Annual Cybersecurity for Oil and Gas Summit, also in Houston, brings together the industry’s IT employees for a series of courses on securing data and physical infrastructure.
- The 2019 Texas Cyber Summit, which will take place in San Antonio in October, will have program tracks tailored to guests with varying levels of cybersecurity understanding. It will also include “Hacker’s Haven,” which will include capturing the flag competitions and other fun.
- Austin’s annual information security and hacking conference, InfoSec Southwest, is open to anybody interested in learning more about industry concerns. Pub crawls scavenger hunts, and capture the flag competitions are scheduled by event organizers to keep things interesting and keep your networking.
- Security BSidesDFW: Similar to TedX for cybersecurity, BSides is a locally organized “unconference” that brings together information security experts who want to learn about and discuss issues that aren’t currently on everyone’s radar. This one is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Texas
Are there enough job opportunities in Texas after you graduate from college? The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy says yes. It was one of only six states that had a cybersecurity workforce development plan in place as of 2015.
Despite having the third-most jobs in the field of any state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the market for cybersecurity experts isn’t saturated. With 320 new jobs expected to open up every year, Texas is ranked ninth in terms of projected job growth for information security analysts. A report from Burning Glass went into greater detail. With 8,694 cybersecurity job postings in 2014, Dallas was ranked fifth in the country. Austin ranked first in the country for job growth in the cybersecurity sector from 2010 to 2014, more than doubling its cybersecurity workforce in that time.
What kinds of jobs might graduates find themselves in? Given that San Antonio has been designated as both a Cyber City USA and a Military City USA, it’s likely that they’ll be able to find work in the defense industry. The military has established cybersecurity units in San Antonio to recruit local civilians. The city is home to the Air Force Cyber Command, the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency, the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center, the Air Force Electronic Warfare School, and the Air Force Cryptologic Systems Group.
Looking for something a little more formal? With 54 Fortune 500 companies, Texas has the second-most of any state, and even companies headquartered elsewhere (such as Hewlett Packard and Lockheed Martin) have large workforces in the state. Telecommunications behemoth AT&T is one of the most well-known brands in the Texas business, but keep in mind that oil firms, including Irving-based Exxon, are warming to cybersecurity efforts. Last but not least, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have more than hangars in the state; they also have operations there. The presence of two aerial titans bodes good for new grads, as most airlines are now aggressively investing in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Salaries in Texas
Texas is an excellent spot to find work. In terms of information security expert wages, Dallas ($117,890 in 2016) and Austin ($110,190) are fourth and seventh, respectively (adjusted for cost of living). However, don’t overlook opportunities in other parts of Texas. Because of low oil prices and the lack of a state income tax, the state’s cost of living is significantly lower than the national average.